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State allocates money to Land Conservancy of SLO County for land preservation

carrizo plain
Jeff Kuyper / Los Padres Forest Watch
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The land preservation is between the Carrizo Plain National Monument and the Santa Lucia Range.

The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County has received a $360,000 grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The agency said the goal is to preserve about 300 acres of San Luis Obispo County land and its surrounding ecosystem.

The land preservation is between the Santa Lucia Range and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The land is private property, but the grant acquires certain property rights the land owner currently has.

John Donnely is the Executive Director of the Wildlife Conservation Board. He said this area of the Central Coast is important for how biologically rich it is.

“The goal of what our project will do is to maintain the biological resources on the ground, still allowing the landowner to continue to ranch the property and make a living on the property,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly said as the effects of climate change become more evident, preservation is important for species like the steelheads swimming in Morro Creek. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Central California Coast Steelhead is a threatened species.

“The benefits associated with Morro Creek, and the steelhead habitat that Morro Creek would generate over time. Particularly as the climate changes and the effects of climate change become more evident,” Donnely said.

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Greta Mart/KCBX
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Wildflowers on the Carrizo Plain.

Donnely said development of this area could have increased fire complications especially since the land is made up of grasslands, woodlands, and coastal sage scrub.

“Over time [it] potentially could be developed into houses, which comes with more roads or fire issues,” Donnelly said.

Besides housing, he said developing the land for agriculture could also have negative effects on wildlife and the environment.

“Agriculture is not a bad thing, but you know as you intensify [agriculture], the number of wildlife that benefit [from] agriculture goes down. So what we're doing is we're achieving a balance of agriculture, wildlife protection, and climate resiliency up there.”

Donnelly said conservation projects like this sometimes meet opposition from people who would rather see the land developed, but that this project in SLO County has been a much smoother process.

The grant the San Luis Obispo County Land Conservancy received was part of a $15 million grant allocated to various regions in California. Other counties that received are Ventura, Los Angeles, Nevada, and Tulare.

Gabriela Fernandez is a general assignment reporter at KCBX News. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an Associate Producer on the TahoeLand podcast.
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